Thursday, April 01, 2010

What was Jesus famous for?

I need to figure out what I am going to teach my children about God...and fast. Tonight, we had the TV on PBS and some program came on about uncovering the mysteries of the life of Jesus. Lucas is crazy about science shows...if he ever catches a glimpse of Nova or Nature on PBS, I can't get him away from the TV. It doesn't even matter what topic they are covering...any area of science will do. He's a science junkie. So he thought of the program about Jesus this evening as just another science program. I let him watch a little bit of it because he begged me, but I could see the wheels turning in his head. It was 8:00...bedtime. I didn't feel like being sucked into a deep philosophical conversation with Lucas, so I shut the TV off and quickly shuffled everyone off to bed. Unfortunately, I could not avoid the uncomfortable conversation. As I was putting Lucas to bed, he began with the questions. What was Jesus famous for? Is he a myth or was he real? How is he God's son? How did he die? On and on. I answered the questions to the best of my ability and as honestly as I could. However, I was extremely uncomfortable.

Why was I uncomfortable? I honestly don't know. I was raised Catholic. I am the proud survivor of twelve years of Catholic schools. I know the answers to all of Lucas' questions inside and out. At least, I know the answers that I was taught as a child. However, I am not certain how I want to approach the topic of God and religion with my children. I am a believer in God. I believe that God is a loving God. However, I have trouble getting past all of the ugliness that is perpetrated in this world in the name of God. I am no longer a practicing Catholic. I have a definite soft spot in my heart for the Catholic Church. There are many things that I loved...and will always love...about the Catholic Church. The community...the pageantry...the symbolism....the ritual. However, I can't get past some other aspects of the church. I can't get past the history of corruption and abuse in the church. I can't believe in a system that treats women as second-class citizens. And even more relevant to me, I can't get past the church's treatment of gay people. I can't be a part of a church whose leader...the pope himself...has publicly equated gay people having children with child abuse. And that was Pope John Paul II..."The People's Pope."

So that leaves me with my burning question...what do I teach my children about God? About religion? And how do I teach them? I want my children to believe in a loving God. I want them to know that a person can be spiritual without necessarily being religious. I want to instill in them a moral code based on respect and love. However, when the topicof God arises, I feel extremely ill-prepared. Lucas is asking questions...he is beginning to talk about God and wonder about God. I don't want him to learn about God from people who don't share my beliefs. I don't want him to think of God as a punishing, manipulative being who is out to "get" him if he misbehaves. But what do I say to him? How do I approach the topic? I have tried answering all of his questions when he asks. However, my answers feel trite. I guess I am just going to have to suck it up and get over myself. Unless I want someone else teaching my son about spirituality...which I don't...I am going to have to have these uncomfortable conversations. I am sure these are just the first of many awkward conversations to come.


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